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Flies in the window (Castletown House, Ireland) from the portfolio Alen MacWeeney

© Alen MacWeeney

Flies in the window (Castletown House, Ireland) from the portfolio Alen MacWeeney

Artist: Alen MacWeeney (Born in Dublin, Ireland, 1939)
Culture: Irish
Date: 1972 (printed 1979)
Medium: Gelatin silver print
Image: 10 5/8 x 15 3/4 inches (27 x 40 cm)
Sheet: 16 x 19 7/8 inches (40.6 x 50.5 cm)
State: 33
Edition: 90
Classification: Photograph
Credit Line: Gift of James R. McNab, Jr.
Label Text:Alen MacWeeney has made most of his career as a commercial photographer in New York City, but for his personal photography he has returned many times to his native Ireland. Castletown House, County Kildare, is Ireland's largest and earliest grand Italian-style house. It was built in the 1720s for William Conolly, then Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and the wealthiest commoner in Ireland. Born in humble circumstances, Conolly converted to Protestantism; when William of Orange confiscated the lands of James II’s Catholic supporters, Conolly established his fortune through dealing in these forfeited estates.

The house has been open to the public since the 1960s, but this must be the strangest and most deflating portrait of this noble building. The spray of dead flies parallels the field of cattle beyond the formal garden: the perspective puts the flies and the distant cattle in the same scale. This photograph is part of MacWeeney’s Yeats series, named for poet William Butler Yeats, who sought to celebrate Ireland while fighting against the oppressions of British rule and its resulting injustice of unequal wealth.

Object number: 1984.55.17